Monthly Archives: April 2008

You have seen me around town (aka Enzo’s Birthday)

On our last night in Siracusa, we decided to head to the island of Ortiga for drinks. We had been eating at this place on the mainland, but decided three nights in a row was a little excessive. We walked up past the duomo and out to the waterfront and found a busy restaurant among all of the deserted ones. We sat down for a glass of wine and started talking. They gave us peanuts and crackers, but nothing like the spread we found in Siena (see chicken wall in about a week). As we sipped and talked, the people began to finish and move on. By the end of the second glass it was a pretty sparse crowd, but some guys were setting up to play music. At the start of our third glass, we were one of only two groups in the whole place. The other group was a father and son, the kid was probably 8 and was being forced to quit running all around and eat some food. We decided that we really couldn’t let these dudes just sing to a completely empty restaurant, so we decided to stay while they played. Another reason that was thrown around was that maybe the owners would try to lure us with some free shrimp in order to get their only customers to stay.

So the dudes played and played, one was on a sax and the other on his laptop, but he would occasionally sing too. We were literally the only ones outside listening to them for a good 30 minutes or so before a group quietly came and sat in the back. Also, men had been coming and going for a while, but we didn’t see them, since they had been going inside. At the end of the third glass of wine, they finally brought us an little plate of mixed meats, cheeses, olives and artichokes. We were seeing a little headway, but no shrimp yet. Maybe if we played with the kid or cheered for the musicians.

Then we got something that we totally didn’t need, a bottle of wine from one of the guys inside named Peppe. Along with it came a note and since I am quite conceited, I will assume that when Peppe writes, ‘Hello I am Peppe, I would like to know you, may I offer you and your friend a drink?’ that I am the You and mom is the friend. I went in to thank Peppe and to ask him to come talk to us, but when he said he spoke ‘un poco’ english he really meant it, like in the way that I speak ‘un poco’ italiano, which is -can I have a room or where is the bathroom. The conversation went no where which was alright, since it was a little weird.

Around this time, his friend came out who did speak english and said ‘you have seen me around town.’ I don’t know how other people would respond to this statement, but I just sat there in silence for a few seconds. I did not want to insult him, but no, we hadn’t seen him around and he must either be extremely conceited himself or mistaking us for another blond mother daughter troop that was also in Siracusa. I ended up not answering before he pulled out his election flyer. All around Italy, the streets are littered with these election handouts of the candidates and their faces and the bus stops are plastered with giant, though somewhat creepy pictures of the political hopefuls. Ah, so he was running for local office! For those Redmondites, the Rosemary Ives of Siracusa — Although he has yet to be elected.

We chatted for about five minutes before being asked to join in Enzo’s birthday party, which meant going over and sitting near the now large group at the back and singing to this guy Enzo. Then we ate cake with Enzo and his friends before the group retired to hours and hours of karaoke. We hung out and Francesco (the political hopeful) would fill us in on things, like that Enzo LOVED to sing, which was why the ‘band’ was brought in. We endured a few hours of great karaoke performences by our new friends which included many english songs that sounded like someone had forgotten the words and was just humming. We drank and snacked and ended up walking back to the room around 2:30. Fun times. Felice Cumpleanos, Enzo!

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Happy Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday and I was lucky enough to spend it in Sicily with my mom. It was raining a little when we woke p in Palermo on the northern coast of Sicily. The city was huge and overwhelming and since we only have a week left here and not wanting to spend all of our time figuring out the city and what to do amongst the grit and traffic, we decided to head south to Siracuse. It was great, about a 6 hour ride with a stop over in Catania. It rained hard all day, so the train was nice and warm, like being inside with a fire on a stormy day. Actually I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I got to sit and watch the land go by. The island is very hilly and full of fields and abandoned settlements. the history here is more like Greece than northern Italy. The ruins date back to the 1st and 2nd centuries.

When we got in to siracuse it was around dusk and still pouring. We don’t actually have a guidebook for Sicily, so our trip here has been based on a book of festivals, which was for 2007 and a beautiful (also free) hadout of coastal towns. We had spent some time in the book store translating some of lonely planet and writing down the addresses of place to stay. So, we headed out in the rain to find an internet cafe to check a map (a lot of the places in Sicily don’t have info near the train station). There were pools of water in the street, so we got the cliched spray from the car and got completely soaked. After finding it on the map, we headed out in the direction that the people at the cafe had told us. We were bundled up in our scarves, soaking wet and just hoping they had rooms. We chatted about it having a tv and our own bathroom (such a luxury), but didn’t actually believe that it would, but it did!!! The room is nice, it is right across the bridge to the island of old Siracuse, so it is great location and everything we need.

We got dry and set out for my birthday dinner. We were both excited for a good dinner of pasta and wine at a place called La Spiega (also our favorite place in Seattle), but it appeared many of the restaurants were closed, so we were forced to go to the equivelant of Red Robin. There was a big soccer match on, so the place was actually pretty full. Mom had a bacon cheeseburger and I had a veggie burger, which turned out to be really good. It was a falafel patty with fixings for a burger. All in all a good night.

Siracuse is really beautiful. It is a bright blue day today and we will walk to the ruins and probably end up spending 3 nights here. It is manageable and on the sea and close to some of the side trips we want to take. We’ll try again for our big italian meal tonight, but even sitting there in front of the huge poster of Newport Beach, CA (which was taken about 6 blocks from my uncle and aunt’s house) I had a very happy birthday. I feel so lucky to be here and lucky to be able to spend this time with my mom no matter where we end up.

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